When I say "everything," I mean piercing screams, injury, tenion, a bagel, a near-upset, and one bizarre tennis dress. Sandra Zahlavova and Venus Williams put on an Australian Open 2nd round show that, at times, was so strange, I had to just shake my head.
Williams, dressed in a different outfit than the one she wore in the first round, looked off in her first set against Zahlavova, who--by the way--looked especially "on." The set went to a tiebreak, and right before Zahlavova hit set point, Williams cringed and yelled in a way that was about pain, not hard hitting. The 4th seed experienced a painful groin injury, and left the court to get treatment.
When Williams returned, there was expectation that she would cross over and shake hands with her opponent. Instead, she took a new racquet out of its bag. There was then expectation that she would have difficulty playing the second set. Instead, she won it 6-0. Zahlavova's level decreased in that she stopped being aggressive like she was in the first set.
As the third set began, the logical assumption was that--if she could stay relatively pain-free--Williams would cruise against a demoralized opponent. But once again, things did not go as expected. Zahlavova came roaring back, and that set produced some really exciting tennis. As the set advanced toward a conclusion, Zahlavova made a terrible shot selection that prevented her from getting break points against Williams. When Williams double-faulted on match point, there was a moment of hope for Zahlavova, but Williams closed the set 6-4.
It should be noted that even the bagel set lasted 48 minutes; Zahlavova played a great match, and used a stinging backhand to her advantage again and again. The mach lasted over three hours, and for over an hour and forty minutes, Williams was bandanged and in pain. She has never retired from a match during a major, and she wasn't going to start at age 30. Both women deserve credit for fighting through difficult circumstances. Just as Williams could have (honorably) retired, Zahlavova could have mentally caved in. Instead, they gave the spectators what they had come to see, and then some. And since Williams had full use of her experience, she found a way to walk off the court a winner.
The bad news is that the injury appears to be a bad one, and now we just have to wait and see what happens next for the 4th seed, who is scheduled to play Andrea Petkovic in the third round.